American idols – the best ever songs about America

Celebrate July 4 with this playlist of all-American bangers.

Bruce Springsteen – ‘Born In The USA’

Often misconstrued as a wildly patriotic barn-stormer, this 1984 classic is actually a critical look at the way US veterans were treated following the Vietnam War. This is The Boss’s blue-collar heartland rock at its most powerful and poignant.

The Mamas and Papas – ‘California Dreamin’


Music doesn’t get lusher than this atmospheric folk-rock classic. Close your eyes and you’re instantly transported to a sun-dappled field somewhere out on the West Coast. There is a hippy nearby, but for some reason you’re totally cool with it.

Tom Petty – ‘American Girl’

When it comes to songs about America, Tom Petty is the man. Altogether now: “Well she was an American girl/Raised on promises/She couldn’t help thinkin’ that there/Was a little more to life/Somewhere else.”

Lana Del Rey – ‘West Coast’

Queen of the darker side of Americana, LDR’s ‘West Coast’ is a leather-jacket wearing ode to the moody underbelly of California. Best appreciated with a large glass of whiskey and some deep ennui.

James Brown – ‘Living In America’


It’s almost too funky, isn’t it. James Brown’s ode to the excellence of America and all its various cities is so utterly joyful and excessively 1980s that it’s impossible not to love.

Jay Z – ‘Empire State of Mind’

Jay Z and Alicia Keys make New York sound like the most exciting place in the world on this 2009 classic. And you know what, they’re kinda right.

Miley Cyrus – ‘Party In The USA’

Classic country meets late 2000s EDM-pop? Why not. Why the hell not. This is America, anything is posssible.

Lynyrd Skynrd – ‘Sweet Home Alabama’

Want to feel like you’re in a down’n’dirty dive bar, nibbling nuts and sweating into the brim of a Stetson? Then you need some ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ in your life.

Simon and Garfunkel – ‘America’

Trekking across the States in a Greyhound bus, this lovely, lovely folk ballad is all about discovering the vast country that is America. Utterly charming. Road trip, anyone?

2Pac – ‘California Love’

Proof positive that California very much knows how to party.

Randy Newman – ‘I Love LA’

Randy Newman doesn’t like New York or Chicago. He likes LA. In fact, he loves it.

LCD Soundsystem – ‘North American Scum’

Sure, it might paint a less than flattering image of Americans, but ‘North American Scum’, which sees James Murphy getting all embarrassed about being an American abroad and saying the wrong thing, is a belter.

Estelle – ‘American Boy’

Never forget this Kanye West-featuring classic, which sees Brit Estelle meeting up with an American boy and then asking him to be her tourguide and show her around New York, LA and anywhere else he fancies. Also notable for West coyly doing an English accent as he says “Dress smart like a London bloke.”

Green Day – ‘American Idiot’

Funnily enough, this came out well over a decade before Donald Trump assumed office.

America – ‘Ventura Highway’

You can’t make a list of the best songs about America and not include a song by the band called America. Thankfully ‘Ventura Highway’ is also a highly decent tune.

Nas – ‘NY State of Mind’

Obviously Nas. New York’s finest pays tribute to the city that raised him on the greatest hip-hop album of all time.

Joni Mitchell – ‘California’

Sometimes it takes an outsider to see the true beauty of a country – here Canada’s Joni Mitchell swoons over California in this perky folk classic.